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A World with Extreme Poverty is a World of Insecurity.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Family Planning does not win or lose votes

Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 13, 2007

Written by: ELY DE LEON, information officer, Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), Diliman, Quezon City

We were utterly disappointed with the way Antonio J. Montalvan II treated the Filipino voting public with his article titled "Pro-life, pro-death list." (Inquirer, 2/26/07) It was equally disappointing to hear a historian of his stature stooping so low to hurl unfounded accusations at legislators who are promoting better quality of life for Filipinos.

Modern technology has afforded us various conveniences, including easy access to various sources of information. It will not hurt to check the content of House Bills 3773 and 5285 for anything that has to do or is remotely related to euthanasia, abortion and divorce. The findings of a Pulse Asia survey showing the increasing number of Filipinos (69 to 82 percent) supportive of candidates favoring free choice of family planning methods for couples are also accessible to the public.

The survey also showed an 11-percentage-point increase in the number of Filipinos who said they would support candidates favoring a law or measure on family planning (from 71 percent in 2000 to 82 percent in 2004); and a 6-percentage-point increase in the number of those who said they would support candidates favoring a government budget for family planning (to 80 percent from 74 percent).

Similarly, the Family Planning Survey (FPS) and the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), both conducted by the National Statistics Office, show that only half of married women are able to plan their families due to lack of information and proper knowledge on the various family planning methods. Filipinas, especially among the ranks of the poor, also bear more children than they desire, and they encounter difficulties in spacing their births.

The results of the 2004 elections have also proven that the inclusion of reproductive health and family planning in a candidate’s platform does not work against a candidate’s chances of winning, as all the national and local candidates who carried these issues gained fresh mandates from their constituents.

Some of the reelected legislators Montalvan mentioned in his column have consistently supported population and reproductive health initiatives. They include Representatives Josefina Joson, Nereus Acosta, Gilbert Remulla, Loretta Ann Rosales, Lorna Silverio, Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel, Mario Joyo Aguja, Darlene Antonino-Custodio, Emilio Macias, Jose Carlos Lacson, Nerissa Soon-Ruiz and Renato Magtubo.Our vote is our right and our power. We urge the Filipino voting public to exercise this right and power with much caution. Know your candidates well. Do not wholly rely on unsolicited advice given by people with limited views and dark-age mentality.